What Is Love? The Definition Behind It

Updated September 04, 2018

Love is a hard concept to define, and any definition you may read about it won't do it justice. If you go to a regular dictionary and look up the definition, it's something vague, such as "an intense feeling of deep affection." While not wrong, this definition does very little to explain the complexities of love. You can have deep affections for anything. But love is something that goes far beyond. It's much stronger, and when it ends, it can be a train wreck.

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In this post, we will look at the many theories that try to explain love.

The Components Of Love According To The Triangular Theory

According to the triangular theory of love, true love is a combination of three components. These components are intimacy, passion, and commitment.

Intimacy is the strong connection you feel with someone. A good friendship requires intimacy. Otherwise, it's just an acquaintance. Intimacy can occur in family bonds, too. It doesn't have to be sexual or romantic but instead talks about the bond you share. Intimacy can occur because the two of you share the same beliefs, personality, or just hit it off. Sometimes, the intimacy isn't as explainable as you may think.

Then, there is passion. Passion is simply a sexual attraction to someone. The person gives you a feeling of lust, and chemicals are set off in your body. Passion may go down with time, but there should still be some passion in a long-term relationship. A relationship without intimacy is one that will fail. A lust-based relationship will eventually fade.

Finally, there is commitment. If you truly love someone, you will probably want to have some form of commitment to them. For example, you may find yourself talking about the future with your love. You'll want to move in with them, start a family, build careers, or do anything else that progresses with what you consider to be life.

With the love triangle, there is more nuance to it, and we could write an article about it alone. Let's look at some other definitions of love as well.

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Types Of Loves

In ancient Greece, there were seven types of love, and we will look at all of them.


This is physical love. In other words, lust. In Greece, Eros was the god of sexual desire, who shot arrows into people to make them attracted, just like Cupid. The Greeks believed this love could be dangerous, as lust can be blinding and can lead to some drama.

Eros can happen during the beginning of a romance before more feelings take over, or it can happen in young couples. It can even happen in older people as well.


Philia is platonic love. You are intimate with someone but may not have any sexual relations with them. This occurs in friendships, or in brothers. You find someone who you form a powerful connection with, be it sharing the same beliefs and values, or you just hit it off. Philia was quite cherished in the world of ancient Greece, and it's easy to see why.


Ludus is flirtation, but there's more to it than that. It is teasing, and it can involve laughter or anything else that involves playful flirting. It's practiced by young people or anyone who doesn't want anything special in their relationship. If you've ever flirted with someone, you are practicing Ludus.


Pragma is the love of commitment. It develops after a long time. Couples have understood each other, reached agreements, and learn to tolerate any differences they have. They haven't fallen in love; they are staying in love. It's something that takes years to craft, and it can be considered to be the most honorable form of love due to how long it can take to form.


This love is when you are selfless and love your fellow man instead. Many would consider it to be unconditional love, where you give without expecting to receive. No ulterior motives, no expecting a reward, just loving out of empathy and nothing else.

Agape can be a relationship, where you're sacrificing a lot for your significant other, a friendship, or just to a stranger. You could say that the world needs more agape love. With that said, don't be so agape that you end up being used.


This is the love of yourself. However, there are two kinds of love that Philautia can have. First, there's the selfish kind. You only care about yourself, and no one else. You want it all, and you don't care who stands in your way. You're narcissistic, or just plain self-absorbed. This is the band kind of self-love.

With that said, there's also the good kind of self-love. With the good kind, you're confident, but not egotistical. You make efforts to care for yourself, be it to eat healthily, exercise, or keep yourself clean. You don't let anyone put you down. This is the best kind of self-love, and it can be important when being in a romantic relationship.


This is child love. A parent feels love for their children, and that love is regardless of what the child does. You sacrifice a lot for your child, and you share a deep, emotional bond with them. This is the power of Storge, and

Example of Storge love: Think about the kind of love your mother gives you or your very best friend. It is rooted in friendship and understanding, but there is also a deep emotional connection there.

What makes the Greek definitions of love so interesting is the fact that it can apply to anyone. You don't need to be in a romantic relationship to have the feeling of love. Instead, you need to have a strong bond with someone and then love them no matter what.

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Unrequited Love

This is when you love someone, and they don't love you back or aren't aware of you loving them. They may see you as just a friend, or just an acquaintance. It can be hard to deal with a love that is not two-sided. If you are experiencing unrequited love, don't try to force someone to love you. Instead, distance yourself from the person and try to find love somewhere else.

Love Is Blind

A synonym associated with love is blindness. What is meant by this is the fact that when you experience love, you may not be as reasonable. If you fall for someone who isn't good for you, you may ignore or resent any concerns from your friends and family. You may excuse the person for some toxic actions they've done because you're in love. When your love breaks up with you, you may get desperate and try to win them back, despite the fact they clearly don't want you. Same with unrequited love.

Love can interfere with your logic, and this is partially due to chemicals in your brain. When you fall in love, you may experience a dopamine rush that makes you feel good, and when you break up, you desperately want that dopamine rush back. This is the same cause for many drug addictions.

Love Is Beautiful And Tragic

We all know the bad about love, but love has often been portrayed in a good light as well. It's commonly associated with youth, as most people first fall in love at a young age. The blooming stages of love can be a thing of beauty, as one person tries to court the other and they overcome some hardships along the way.

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In other cases, love is portrayed as tragic. Think about how many stories have ended in tragedy because of love, or the loss of love. Think about how many people you know have been burned by love. Not to mention, all the songs that have been written about it.

This makes the definition of love even more complex. It can be the best, and worst thing ever. This is also because the line between love and hate is quite thin. These strong emotions are located in the same part of your brain and can switch rather quickly.

Seek Help!

Even if you've read a few articles about love, it can still be very hard for you to understand. One way you can understand love better, especially if you're unsure if you're feeling love, is to speak to a therapist. A relationship counselor has a grasp on how love works, and they can tell you what you're feeling and what you should do about it. If you're unsure if someone loves you back, then the counselor can help find the signs. If the love is unrequited, then the therapist can teach you how to move on.

If you're having relationship troubles, then a therapist can help be the mediator to let the two of you reach a logical conclusion. Sometimes, the solution can be easy, but you just need a cool head to help.

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